North American Customer Service Management Association

Support for Contact Center Professionals

Phase 2 Strategy - Step 1 Utilities

Data Connection

Imagine you move into your new contact center only to discover when it’s time to connect your center to the ISP that the carrier representative only gives you two options: Dial up and cable. You ask “Where’s the fiber?” “Oh that will cost you $50,000 and take 90 days to 18 months to install,” says the carrier representative. Yikes! and you already signed the lease! This is not the time to find out your most important utility is substandard.

The biggest oversightwhen it comes to utilities is the telecommunication services, specifically the data connection. What kind of data connection is available at the potential sites you’re considering? After all, this is a contact center that runs on the Internet! Contact centers utilize numerous applications and thousands of calls flow through simultaneously. You want the fastest, most secure and reliable connection you can get, which is Fiber Optics. This is by far the most important utility decision you will make.
Do your due diligence and get this one right the first time. Just because there is a cell phone tower on the other side of the parking lot doesn’t mean there is fiber to your prospective contact center. This is one decision where you don’t want to take any shortcuts.
Fiber

Why fiber? It is preferable due to its speed, symmetrical bandwidth that allows for much longer transmission distances, and security.

Fiber is completely dedicated to your business, making it private. Not sharing lines makes for a higher level of security. Fiber is made of glass; you have to literally break it to breach the connection. Copper can be compromised and hacked much more easily. While fiber is more expensive in the short term, the benefits make it less expensive over time. Ask your site selector to see the fiber maps. Ensure fiber is available and up and running when you move in. Don’t accept any promises about when it will be installed. You want your center up and running successfully from the very first day.
Facility Operations and Maintenance

Facility operations and maintenance (O/M) comprises of all the services required to assure the building’s environment will perform the functions for which the building was built and/or selected to do. Operations and maintenance means the daily activities of its systems, equipment, technology, processes and the people that maintain them.

While operations and maintenance includes a long list of areas, not all are critical to the site selection process. For example, Real Property Inventory, Computerized Maintenance Management Systems, Janitorial/Cleaning, and Systems Training are important O&M responsibilities but these are not deal breakers when it comes to site selection.
Daily utility costs need to be identified and evaluated during the site selection process. Daily costs like: What’s the cost of electricity? How much electricity will the center use? How old is the HVAC unit? Will the current HVAC unit need an upgrade? Is it energy efficient? Are there solar or gas options? Can you anticipate how much water the site will use? What does it cost? Are you in an area where water is rationed like California? Do you want green grass at your front door? What will it cost to water it? What are the fees for trash, recycling, and other city services? Your qualified site selector can help you obtain, analyze and project these monthly expenses.
Taxes
What about the telecom taxes?

Is your contact center charged for 911 access and use? Do the local municipality, county or state charge sales and use tax on your telecom business? How do these taxes impact monthly operating costs and impact your clients? Don’t wait to get a bill from the city and be surprised, get the rates and do the math. During the strategy phase you estimated call traffic – now you can estimate the expected tax liability and determine if this is within your budget. Paying taxes keeps you in compliance!
If you choose to purchase property, then property taxes are something to consider. But don’t fret; cities and states have lots of ways to offset taxes. Check with your state’s Economic Development department; they dole out millions of dollars every year in incentives and tax breaks. Examples can be tax credits for all sorts of situations such as job training, accelerated depreciation, solar, military reuse and much more. They too want your contact center in their state, especially if it will bring lots of jobs to the community. The tax incentives and deals can be very competitive from state to state and even city to city. This is why time is your best asset. Doing due diligence for each jurisdiction you are considering is worth it. Shop for incentives! Shop till you drop and get the best location!
Triple Net Lease

A Triple net lease is a lease agreement on commercial property where the tenant agrees to pay all of the real estate taxes, building insurance, and maintenance on the property in addition to rent and utilities.
The advantage is that many times the monthly rent is lower than a standard lease. The biggest drawback is no matter how well your contact center is doing, it will be responsible for the additional costs. If the market takes a downturn you need to be prepared. Tax laws may restrict how much of these costs are tax deductible.

Tips!

1. Don’t take any shortcuts on the data connection, the only choice is fiber optics for the best contact center performance.
2. Don’t wait for the carrier to install fiber, choose a site that already has fiber to the building.

Take the Next Step!

The most important utility decision a contact center makes is the data connection. You do not want to take any shortcuts or accept any false promises from carriers on this one. Fiber is the only choice for contact centers today. Other choices leave the contact center vulnerable to security issues and outages. Reliability and security are the two critical factors. While electricity, water, trash and recycling are necessary they aren’t deal breakers like the data connection. If the trash hasn’t been picked up this week, it has no impact on customer satisfaction. A contact center that is closed due to an outage does impact the customer. Focus on the data connection decision in your utility conversation.

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NACSMA Consultant

Furniture

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Interior Designer

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Consultant

The North American Customer Service Management Association (NACSMA) assists Service Center professionals with improving the delivery of Customer Care to their clients by providing a collaborative networking approach to operational issues.